Monthly Archives: March 2012

2012 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

Before last week’s show in San Mateo, California, “Gardens For a Green Earth,” recedes into the dim past, just a few photos, not at all a comprehensive account.
All photos taken by MB Maher at the preview on Tuesday, 3/20/12.


“Windows,” Gold Medal Winner
(Association of Professional Landscape Designers, American Society of Landscape Architects Award,
California Landscape Contractors Award, Sunset Western Living Award, San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers Award, and The Garden Conservancy Award)
McKenna Landscape
Leslie McKenna
Los Gatos, CA
(408) 356-1842
leslie@mckennalandscape.com
www.mckennalandscape.com

Photobucket

Photobucket

Continue reading 2012 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show

the most salient landscape feature of Los Angeles

has to be the parking lot.

It’s estimated that there are three nonresidential parking spaces for every car in the United States. That adds up to almost 800 million parking spaces, covering about 4,360 square miles, an area larger than Puerto Rico. In some cities, like Orlando and Los Angeles, parking lots are estimated to cover at least one-third of the land area, making them one of the most salient landscape features of the built world.”

Italian architect Renzo Piano, when redesigning the Fiat Lingotto factory in Turin, eliminated the parking lot’s islands and curbs and planted rows of trees in a dense grid, creating an open, level space under a soft canopy of foliage that welcomes pedestrians as naturally as it does cars.”


Photobucket

Developers talk about the importance of ‘first impressions’ to the overall atmosphere conveyed to the user. Yet parking lots are rarely designed with this function in mind. When they are, the effect is stunning. For instance, the parking lot at the Dia art museum in Beacon, N.Y., created by the artist Robert Irwin and the architecture firm OpenOffice, was planned as an integral element of the visitor’s arrival experience, with an aesthetically deft progression from the entry road to the parking lot to an allee that leads to the museum’s lobby.”

Image found here.


Photobucket

From The New York Times, 3/25/12, “When a Parking Lot Is So Much More,” by Eran Ben-Joseph, Professor of Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, author of “Rethinking a Lot: The Design and Culture of Parking.”

my favorite garden show

is the one taking place at any given moment in my own backyard.

PhotobucketPhotobucket

be it ever so humble and jumbled, chaotic, disheveled, contrary, exasperating, etc, etc.

PhotobucketPhotobucket

That the show blithely carries on while I’m away is always slightly infuriating.
More on a proper show, the 2012 San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, later this week.

back in a few

While we’re away for a couple days for the San Francisco Flower & Garden show, Agave ‘Mr. Ripples’ will have to take over chin-scratching duties. Don’t wear him out, Joseph, okay?

Photobucket

Good or bad, inspired or tired, garden shows are the exclamation point to spring.

Photobucket

March couldn’t be a better time. The obsessive examination of my own garden for signs of spring gets a little intense, and it’s a relief to look further afield.

PhotobucketPhotobucket


Photobucket

See you on Sunday.

garden obtainium

With surgical precision I pried this promising seedling up from the dry-laid bricks some months ago. I didn’t recognize its hirsute, corrugated leaf, so it had to be special, a salvia or verbascum possibly. By this time, all the volunteer seedlings from the garden are familiar in their early stages, and I know what to curtail and what to encourage. Or do I? Turns out what I carefully nurtured these past six months is simple, elemental borage, Borago officinalis, one of the ancient uber herbs. (Pliny said it “maketh a man merry and joyfull.”) Must have blown in or been dropped by a bird. I’ve never grown it before. Planting it in front of a golden Arundo donax was a happy accident. And I can vouch for Pliny, I do indeed feel a bit merrier upon seeing it first light this morning.


Photobucket

I can’t think of a better word than “obtainium” for this wealth of plants an established garden constantly offers up since reading The New York Times 3/16/12, “Building a Better Apocalypse”:

On Chris Hackett’s personal periodic table, the world’s most interesting, and abundant, substance is an element he calls obtainium. Things classified as obtainium might include the discarded teapot that he once turned into a propane burner…

In forming his Madagascar Insitute of anarchic Rube Goldbergists, Mr. Hackett was deeply inspired by equal parts Cormac McCarthy’s The Road (a favorite among the men in this house) and Burning Man. I like to believe that those on familiar terms with organic obtainium will be as useful post-apocalypse as those able to build jet engines from teapots. But obviously I need to venture out of my own garden occasionally to sharpen ID skills of garden-variety obtainium.

Preview: San Francisco Flower & Garden Show 2012


Only the first day of spring, yet garden show season has already arrived in many parts of the country.
MB Maher
was in attendance today at the preview to this year’s San Francisco Flower & Garden Show.
Just a couple photos to whet, not spoil, the excitement.


Photobucket

Photobucket

Photobucket

Have you guessed the name of this designer/nurseryman yet?
(Hint: An American meadow gardener was let loose in the exhibit hall.)

Photobucket

Sculptures by Bay Area artist Marcia Donahue.


see you there.

the wispy side of spring

Insubstantial Sisyrinchium bellum, Blue-Eyed Grass, is an elusive subject for the camera due to its habit of shutting its petals around “magic” hour, that pre-sunrise/post-sunset window when a photographer can rarely go astray. Still, it’s an utterly charming denizen of path-side plantings. Modest, self-effacing, unobtrusive, all those old-fashioned virtues are embodied in this California native.

Photobucket

Its neat and tidy evergreen grassiness would hardly be worth a mention all year, but for the morning in late winter when the slim leaves are topped with starry blue eyes winking up from the pathway’s edge, where there was nothing but green the day before.

Photobucket

This little relative of irises will never command a room, but it also will never be an obnoxious trouble-maker like Ipheion uniflora, a blue-flowered menace of a bulb which blooms here about the same time. Like the quiet person at the party that unexpectedly scintillates on closer acquaintance, that is the delicate appeal of Blue-Eyed Grass.

Foliage Followup March 2012

And then there’s the dodge of leaving projects directly underfoot so you’ll theoretically have no choice but to finish them. Does this trick ever work for anyone else? I just end up with a lot of stuff underfoot. Like these old iron cafe chairs I fished out of the mulch pile to be repainted for extra summer seating. A giant fumitory, the ever-weedy Corydalis heterocarpa, has other designs on them while I take my sweet time getting around to repainting them.

Photobucket

Pam at Digging runs this show, the Foliage Followup that follows every Bloom Day. There are a core group of bloggers that have agavemania of the worst kind, and I don’t think Pam would take exception to getting tagged with that label. So this agave is for you, Pam, a new Kelly Griffin tissue-culture hybrid, Agave pygmaea ‘Dragon Toes.’ Out of a group of maybe eight agaves, I ultimately chose the slightly smaller agave with the extra pup. It’s embarrassing to admit how long this decision took. At least five solid minutes of sober and methodical deliberation. Two slow-growing agaves or a slightly larger single slow-growing agave? Hmmm….no contest, really. Agavemania in its basest form feeds on quantity.

Photobucket

An agave from last summer’s cactus shows, A. parrasana ‘Fireball,’ might be my favorite for the moment.
A wrought iron stand keeps the really prized agaves out of the reach of their worst enemies, snails and slugs.

Photobucket

Still haven’t found a suitable spot in the garden for Aloe peglerae, but its protected spot on a plant stand under the eaves seems to suit it fine for now.

Photobucket

Prostranthera ovalifolia ‘Variegata’ has just started blooming tiny lavendar bells. A shimmering shrub that always seem to die young in my garden.

Photobucket

Visit Pam’s blog to discover the astonishing array of beautiful leaves March has on offer.